"Mr 3000" Steadicam shot by Charles Papert at DVinfo.net

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Old December 2nd, 2004, 11:48 PM   #1
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"Mr 3000" Steadicam shot by Charles Papert

Hi folks

The October 2004 issue of American Cinematographer gives credit to Charles Papert for the following Steadicam acrobatics in the movie 'Mr 3000':

(if I may quote: Pages 58-59)

"...120-fps shot that follows a sharp ground ball hit up the middle and over second base. The camera is moving after the ball and the second baseman dives horizontally into the frame to "snow cone" the ball -- that is, to barely catch it so that half of the ball is sticking out of the tip of his glove. The player then hits the ground, spins around onto one knee as the camera rotates around him, and throws to first base, where the focus racks to a very close play at first. The result is 'an unbelievable shot that really captures the energy and spirit of the game ..... The shot was filmed by Steadicam operator Charles Papert in two takes. with two additional takes for safety."


Boy I'm going to see the film just for this shot!!!

Charles, in 2 takes??? What a man!!!

Care to reveal how did you 'followed' the ball or was that done in post??
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Old December 4th, 2004, 09:41 PM   #2
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Hi Norman:

Yeah, that was an exciting shot. I actually didn't need to follow the ball, I was pointing towards the plate from the beginning so that it was flying towards camera the whole time. The tricky part was pivoting around the 2nd baseman as he swiveled to first base, which required me to be running with the camera in low-mode (camera underslung) in a tight arc. If I had waited to see if the action was in the frame, it would have been too late--I just had to whip the camera around and hope it worked. Anyone who has played with a Steadicam-type device knows how tricky it is to maintain level when making a fast cornering move; it tends to "kick out" due to inertia. And shooting at a high camera speed (slow motion) means that any momentary errors in operating become stretched out for eternity...

The shot was digitally sped up and then became slow motion in post. I think it worked out pretty well.
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Old December 6th, 2004, 09:58 AM   #3
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wow great skill there!

i bet some slob in the theater will say "aww that was just done on a computer, nobody could do that"

matthew
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Old February 14th, 2005, 11:22 AM   #4
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If anyone would like to actually see our own Charles Papert making a living while shooting this film buy or rent the Mr. 3000 DVD. The "Making of Mr. 3000" has several shots of him running his Steadicam rig and one of him in great concentration (or pain) while gazing at a monitor.

It's a good "extra" feature on the DVD.
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Old February 14th, 2005, 11:39 AM   #5
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Concentration--pain--elation, they all look the same on me. Gotta maintain that poker face!

Thanks for checking out the DVD, Ken.

"Mr. 3000" was a big movie for me as I moved to DP for three days of additional photography and reshoots with the principal cast (Bernie Mac, Angela Bassett and Chris Noth). Some of it required some pretty fancy lighting matches to the original scenes shot several months earlier in a different location.
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Old February 14th, 2005, 11:49 AM   #6
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My wife and I watched it last night. There were many shots that looked like they were trauma-inducing maneuvers for you. (I can only imagine the complexity of doing the re-shoots based on my own teeny, tiny project!) ("You wanna do WHAT?!")

One (actually two) that stands out to me was toward the the end in which the pitcher is first framed in profile and then the camera moves smoothly behind him as he throws his pitch. The focus smoothly moves over his shoulder and lands at home plate as the ball arrives. That was slick and took more than a little experience to perform...twice!
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Old February 14th, 2005, 12:03 PM   #7
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Good eye, Ken...those were tricky shots. I think they were pretty long lens, like a 75 (maybe a 50)mm, and I had to stop on a dime from getting up a pretty good speed with the arc-around. My focus puller, Rob Carlson, did a great job with the rack as you noted.

There's a lot of "hidden" Steadicam in there as well, shots that could have been dolly but weren't for one reason or another. The final montage at the end of the film (sort of the epilogue) that shows all of the characters one last time and consists of a series of pushing-in dissolved shots were all Steadicam, for instance.

I also liked the end of T-Rex's speech when he is standing up on a table and rallying the team, which culminated in a very fast circling shot that whip-panned off and whip-panned on to the guys telling stories in the bar, with a slow circling move around them. I think I started that second shot up on a small ramp so that we could look down at the group and eventually end up at eye level. The Steadicam continues all the way through the coverage on Bernie and Angela Bassett at the end.

Finally, more about comedy than anything else, the shot where Bernie bunts was a Steadicam push-in. Because of my proximity to the ball, we outfitted me with protective gear, courtesy of the catcher--the "tools of ignorance", as they are so colorfully dubbed--which looked pretty funny combined with the Steadicam.
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Old February 28th, 2005, 02:18 PM   #8
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Charles,

Great work... very smooth. I noticed that whip-pan into the bar... good shooting. I saw from the special features that a lot of shots that played like dolly shots (Bernie & Gal coming from the bar, Bernie walking through the dugout) were actually steadycam shots also. I didn't go back and re-watch the film to see if there was a reason for that other than ease...

So on a job like this, do you interact much with the director, or do you take everything from the DP/Cinematographer? Were you working from storyboards? I heard the director in the special features talking about pretty detailed planning of the shots.

Congrats on the pickup DP work... that shows some good trust in you. Are you working towards feature DP work, or do you have the directing bug?

Anyway, keep up the good work and thanks for keeping us in the know....
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Old February 28th, 2005, 10:03 PM   #9
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Thanks Barry.

There's always some reason or another for using Steadicam--I usually have enough of a say that we don't just throw it on arbitrarily. in the case of the walk-and-talk outside the bar, the actors would have had to walk all over the dolly track since I was pulling straight back. Same for the dugout. Other times it allowed us to make quicker changes in speed/direction than would have been practical with the dolly, or saved time.

I do have a lot of interaction with the director, particularly when I work for Shane Hurlbut (the DP of this movie and various others we have worked on together). He looks to me for suggestions/thoughts/recommendations. I designed the coverage for a few of the scenes in Mr. 3000. The planned/storyboarded scenes were all game-related because they were shot over multiple days/nights with multiple cameras.

Yes, I am working towards feature DP work and yes, I do have the directing bug! I'm just more likely to get the paying DP stuff right now so I'm focusing on that at the moment.
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Old March 1st, 2005, 06:15 AM   #10
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Cool. Glad you get good input, I'm sure that makes it all more rewarding.

So, are there no trackless dollies? Just with tires? I know on the very low end there are, I figured there must be something on the high end too, but maybe that's not smooth enough. I figured the dugout would be too tight for the dolly anyway...

Did you do the crane work also? There were some nice shots there ...
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Old March 1st, 2005, 07:42 AM   #11
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We do generally have a Western dolly (big pneumatic tires) around in the grip truck, but they are rarely used to actually move the camera since they are not that precise to steer. Sometimes if we are shooting in a muddy field, for instance, we will load the Fisher or Chapman dollies onto the Western to get it where it needs to go so that we can use the boom arm of the onboard dolly.

For the shot in "3000" where Bernie has just slide into base and he slowly gets up to his feet with the camera circling, we had to start at ground level and come around to his eye level in a 180 degree arc. I opted to hardmount the Steadicam in low mode onto the Chapman Peewee which was placed on the Western dolly on the infield. Two grips pushed the Western around the arc while one of them boomed the arm up, while I walked alongside operating the rig (and using the boom on the Steadicam arm to finesse the move). It was pretty complicated but the final shot worked out well, and incidentally included the largest number of CGI extras in the movie.

A similar shot in the dugout started on the deck with all of the sunflower seed shells and trash and boomed up and pushed in on two of the players. This again required the low mode Steadicam mounted to the dolly, which rolled bumpily along the floor of the dugout.

Yes, I did operate all of the crane shots. We had a 30' Technocrane which gives immense flexibility. One of my favorites started on the guys powerwashing the seats and boomed down to reveal Chris Noth standing at the window of his office.
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Old March 1st, 2005, 10:52 AM   #12
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You are my inspiration CP. :)
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Old March 1st, 2005, 11:26 AM   #13
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<<<-- Originally posted by Charles Papert : Yes, I did operate all of the crane shots. We had a 30' Technocrane which gives immense flexibility. One of my favorites started on the guys powerwashing the seats and boomed down to reveal Chris Noth standing at the window of his office. -->>>

I love me them Technocrane's. Got to operate one for the first time last year on a Dentyne commercial, now I don't want to use anything else. To bad I'm so poor :(
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Old March 1st, 2005, 09:39 PM   #14
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Sure are sweet rigs. It was nice to see Horst Burbulla, inventor of the Technocrane, feted at the Scientific Academy Awards (and shown briefly in last weekends telecast). Also nice to see Ed diGulio, who worked with Garrett Brown to develop and advance the Steadicam over the past thirty years (and who passed away this year), memorialized in the obituary segment of the Oscars.
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Old March 2nd, 2005, 01:53 PM   #15
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I'm so sorry I don't think I'll see Mr. 3000 ever coming to a big screen in Singapore.
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